Once upon a time, an heiress named Indigo found a scholar who would become her bridegroom. He’d been lost long enough by then to grow comfortable in the dark; long enough he wasn’t sure anyone could lure him out. But Indigo was never the kind of woman to turn away from a challenge.
Coming into Indigo’s world of wealth and decadence is a feast. And he is always hungry. A single moment of either madness or mystery had shaped his life. Ever since, he’d sought proof of the impossible and bent his whole life around the feeding of it.
The heiress and the scholar. It sounds like the start of a fairy tale.
For years, that was enough for the bridegroom.
Until Indigo is summoned back to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, to tend to her dying aunt–the aunt who told Indigo years ago that she was grateful for her blindness. Because she’d never have to look at Indigo ever again.
The decaying house is filled with ghosts of luxury, memories of a grandiose past. It is also filled with secrets that are impossible to ignore. And haunting memories including a girl no one wants to talk about: Azure–Indigo’s oldest and dearest friend. Azure, who no one has seen in years.
Two girls that were closer than sisters, until they weren’t. A marriage built on a foundation of secrets and the bridegroom’s promise to never look too closely at Indigo’s past. A story that, once revealed, changes everything. A fairy tale that will leave its own scars in The Last Tale of the Flower Bride (2023) by Roshani Chokshi.
The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is Chokshi’s first adult novel. The story alternates between the bridegroom and Azure’s narratives on dual timelines as both the past and present build to a powerful finale.
Themes of privilege and agency loom large throughout the narrative as Azure is pulled into Indigo’s world of impossible wealth and status when they are both still children. The bridegroom offers a different facet of Indigo–the one main character without a narrative point of view–as their secrets and experiences of magic in both the human world and the mystical other world heavily influence their marriage.
Atmospheric descriptions and lush imagery bring Indigo’s opulent and often dangerous world to life with the plot moving inexorably forward. Both the characters and plot of The Last Tale of the Flower Bride are heavily influenced by fairy tales with allusions to classic fairy tale devices, gender flipped elements of Bluebeard and, more generally, a contemplation of what it means to engage with fairy tales as a modern girl and woman–in other words as a person typically othered or dismissed within the fairy tale sphere. This last element in particular is artfully teased out in Azure and Indigo’s changing understanding of Susan Pevensie (the Pevensie child assumed to be rejected by Narnia as she grows older) in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia as well as in their burgeoning familiarity with the magical other world.
Filled with rich prose and vivid emotion, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a dynamic exploration of magic and affection; a story told through the dual lenses of wonder and the mundanity that makes up both a marriage and a friendship.
Possible Pairings: Book of Night by Holly Black, The Birdcage by Eve Chase, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab, The Death of Jane Laurence by Caitlin Starling
*An advance listening copy of the title was provided by the publisher through Libro.fm*